Connecting, amplifying and building networks – this is always at the very heart of the work we do at Bristol Food Network. Our food and the way in which we grow, produce, buy, sell, consume and dispose of it is about connection. Connecting with the soil, connecting with nature, connecting with other citizens, globally, nationally, and, crucially, in our city. 

This is what motivates my work at Bristol Food Network, where I’m Content Coordinator for Bristol Good Food 2030 and I help run the Get Growing Garden Trail, an annual weekend when Bristol’s amazing community growing spaces throw open their doors to the public.

Get Growing Garden Trail 2023, © Janet Gibson

As a C.I.C., Bristol Food Network supports, informs and connects people in the city to help make our food system more resilient for the environment, for communities, and for people’s health and wellbeing. But what does that actually mean in practice?

We’ve worked on many projects with these aims – from the bid for the city to become a Gold Sustainable Food City (which Bristol proudly won in 2021) to community fridges, sustainable food city tours, and the Bristol Bites Back Better campaign (encouraging citizens to take action for good food in the city). In the past decade, Bristol Food Network has also been instrumental in projects such as the Bristol Independents campaign (celebrating independent food businesses), the Bristol Good Food Alliance, the Food Policy Council and Bristol Food Connections festival.

In June 2023 we launched Bristol Good Food 2030: A One City Framework for Action, a set of priorities and initiatives which aim to make Bristol’s food system better for people and communities, climate and nature, workers and businesses, an evolution of decades of work by Bristol Food Network and others in building the city’s good food movement.

Our current big project is, as-ever, an ambitious one – Bristol Good Food 2030 supports the Bristol Good Food Partnership, a group of organisations set up to encourage collaboration across six themes of the Partnership: Eating Better, Food Justice, Food Waste, Good Food Governance, Local Food Economy and Urban Growing. Together, the themes make up a ‘whole food system’ approach, making sure that every aspect of food in Bristol is considered in the programme of work. The output of this is the Bristol Good Food 2030: A One City Framework for Action and Two Year Action Programme, uniting organisations and individuals who are acting across Bristol’s whole food system to reduce its harm and increase its resilience in the face of crisis.

My part in this is keeping a vibrant virtual space up-to-date, where people can learn about good food activity in Bristol and how to take part in the conversations about good food in the city. A hub for events, news, stories, inspiration, connections and hopefully a route to some delicious things!

If you are involved in a food organisation, from a food bank to a community growing project, get in touch with us at the Bristol Good Food 2030 team to list your event on the website so that more people in the city know about it. All events, stories and resources are linked to the six Bristol Good Food 2030 themes.

Get Growing Garden Trail 2023, © Jessica Fray

The wider Bristol Good Food 2030 work involves close collaboration with Feeding Bristol on the Food Justice element of Bristol Good Food 2030: A One City Framework for Action. This work builds on Bristol’s Sustainable Food Places Gold Award, and has been developed with input from more than 50 organisations, representing diverse voices. Bristol Good Food 2030 has been working closely with Feeding Bristol to incorporate the One City Food Equality Strategy 2022–32 objectives into Bristol Good Food Working Group action plans.

All the work we do at Bristol Food Network is about promoting and encouraging cooking from scratch, growing your own and eating more fresh, seasonal, local, nature-friendly food. We’re about vibrant high streets, good-quality land use, food recycling and composting, food education, independent food trade and supporting a sustainable, fairer, healthier (and tastier!) food system that benefits people, communities and planet. 

These are of course big ambitions, but crucial aims if we are to tackle some of the many health, environmental and social crises we have seen in recent years, where in my mind, food is interconnected with pretty much all of it: health, the cost of living, the climate crisis, the ecological crisis, the petrol crisis, the pandemic. It’s been said, after all, that each day, you have three votes to change the food system when you select what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For those fortunate enough to have some agency over this, yes, your food choices are a political act. By connecting individuals and organisations making political acts around food in our city, we can be even bigger than the sum of our parts!

Communication is a high priority for our organisation, as a means of connecting people around the city who are taking action to create a better food system, and amplifying what’s known as the Good Food Movement. Be a part of it!